Friday, December 30, 2016

Thinking Summer?!

Twin Cities Tatters Retreat Summer 2017 is in the planning stages!

Tela Magistrae Michelle and I thought it was time for the Twin Cities Tatters to have a little summer retreat in July, so we are interested in finding out if anyone else might want to join us!  This would be a 2-night stay at a retreat center somewhere near the Twin Cities, Minnesota area, and just time set aside to tat and enjoy the company of other tatters.  No classes would be offered for this first retreat, but who knows what fun could evolve?!

If you are seriously interested, we would love to hear from you ASAP.  The link below will take you to a simple form to help us determine interest and decide what might work the best.  Space will be limited, and a deposit will be required - so the sooner we get planning, the better!

Click here to submit interest (no obligation at this time) >

Once the dates are set, the Retreat will be open for registration on a first-come / first-served basis, so watch for that information!

In the meantime, from the snowy, cold climate of Minnesota . . .

Best Wishes for a Happy, Healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Gingerbread Wonderland

I'm SOOOO loving some vacation during the holidays to enjoy some local events. I had seen something about this Gingerbread Wonderland contest late in 2015 and put it on my calendar to check into this year.  I asked my 2 aunts that live nearby if they'd be interested, and off we went. It was worth the trip to the Norway House in downtown Minneapolis, and fun to see the families with children exploring and discussing the city in gingerbread!

The gingerbread buildings were fabulous - and represented many landmarks in what is called the "Twin Cities" of Minnesota - Minneapolis and St. Paul.  There must be HOURS of work in these creations - much more time (and patience!) than I could ever come up with.

Minnesota State Capitol Building in St. Paul

St. Paul Cathedral

St. Paul Cathedral CLOSE UP - stunning!

[The late] Prince's Paisley Park - Chanhassen, Minnesota

Minneapolis City Hall

The Old Grain Belt Brewery sign and the Stone Arch Bridge - Icons of Minneapolis

First Avenue & 7th Street Entry (Current Live Bands play here)
First Avenue is a main band/dance area upstairs, and the 7th Street Entry is a smaller side bar.  Both host multiple concerts each year, from local to big name musicians.  Prince's "Purple Rain" was filmed here!  First Avenue used to be a disco called "Uncle Sam's" when I was in college, an 18+ venue that also had music and dancing for under 18 on Sunday nights.  I actually saw Tina Turner here in about 1981 or so - when she was making a sort of "comeback".

I'm getting pretty relaxed this week - a little Christmas clearance shopping, some car maintenance, cleaning out cupboards, etc. - feels great to be getting a start on organizing for the New Year!  I've decided that 2017 is going to be the year of getting rid of "stuff".  Donations and a garage sale are looming!  It's a great feeling to clean out closets, but man, have we accumulated a lot of "stuff"!!

Aside from all of that, I've been fighting with my iPad and my laptop.  Blogger doesn't want to work for me - it shuts down on the iPad, and does a crazy magnification on my laptop - both without warning.  Frustrating!  So, I've spent some time on trying to figure out those little annoyances.

Aaaaagh!  So many things to do - I DO NOT want to fight with technology this week! :)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Lefse (but no Lutefisk!)

Well, it's the night-before-the-night-before Christmas!  The lefse is ready to bring to the family Christmas Eve.  Every year when my girls and I make the lefse, I tell them again how my grandma made lefse on a wood stove.  We regulate the griddle easily - can you imagine regulating the temperature of a wood stove?  And, Grandma said they made the lefse on Christmas Eve Day along with the rest of the food.  Boy, we don't know how good we have it, do we?

In later years, my Grandma and her brother would get together on Christmas Day and make lutefisk and lefse.  Grandma's apartment STUNK, but they loved it.  I've tried it and can stand just a small portion of lutefisk, but I don't go out of my way to make it OR have it.  Lefse, on the other hand, is a MUST for Christmas Eve.  I butter and sugar it (white sugar is the tradition, but I prefer brown), and roll it up and cut into pieces for everyone to have.  I mostly prefer lefse warmed in the microwave wrapped around some ham!  

EDITED TO ADD:  It has been brought to my attention that not everyone knows what Lefse and Lutefisk are!  Ha - never thought about that.  Lefse is like a tortilla - but it's made with butter, mashed potatoes and flour, and rolled out to fry on a hot griddle.  Lutefisk is a whitefish soaked in lye, and has a gel-like texture to eat.  It was very smelly in the past, but that seems to have been improved and doesn't smell quite so bad these days.  In any case, that gel-like texture is what is such a turn-off for me - the flavor is very bland!

This year I did something fun, and mailed a package of lefse to my 2nd cousin.  (Twice removed or something like that.)  She is the granddaughter of my Grandma's brother that shared lutefisk and lefse with my Grandma.  We met one summer when we were about 14 or so, and have always stayed in touch as pen pals (she lives in another state), and now on Facebook.  She, too, remembers her grandpa and my grandma having lefse at Christmas.  It was fun to mail her a surprise package of homemade lefse, and she was excited to receive it.  I think our grandparents would be happy to know that we're still in touch!  

Our traditions keep changing, but making the lefse always gets done!  (Skip the lutefisk, thanks.)

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Well, at first thought this thread seemed to be a perfect match for this towel.

And now that I've finished the edging, I'm not so sure I like the color.  Dang it. At our last Twin Cities Tatters gathering, using a gray thread was suggested.  Dumb me, I never thought about GRAY - I only had SILVER in mind.  I'm not sure gray would be right either - it seems like it could be too light.  In any case, I think it will do - it's just not as good as I had envisioned :(

And looking at my Christmas tree, I see this tatted wreath ornament from when I first learned to tat.  It was one of the very first things I made, and I made many as gifts!  I still like it - so simple!  

On with this Christmas week.  For so many reasons, this Christmas season has me full of hope and wonder once again.  I'm so ready for some vacation and some planning for the New Year!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Just a Little Rant

Beware!  I don't typically complain or "rant" on my blog, so this is a rare crabby pants post by the usually ever-optimistic bluebird!

Over the past week, I've thought a lot about our Presidential election.  It didn't turn out the way many thought it would, and certainly not the way I wanted it to.  I was in shock for a day or two, had some good discussions with coworkers, and mostly avoided commenting on social media.  (Not that I didn't want to!)  But I have too many coworkers, friends and family members on both ends of the political spectrum that all have their opinions and beliefs, just as I do.  I refuse to argue that any beliefs are any less relevant than mine.  Discussions are good, but name-calling and insults are pointless.  I only have my own experiences to draw from, as does everyone else.  I have LGBT friends and family members, as well as dear friends from other cultures.  I find everyone fascinating, and whether I like their ideas or not, I try to see why they believe what they do.  Everyone has their reasons - I only hope to receive the same respect for my beliefs.

I might be disappointed with this election, but I will stay steady in my beliefs and fight (vote) for what I believe in.  I don't have to like the President Elect's ideas, but I will hold my tongue and give him a chance to make things better.  Elections are like this - back and forth.  Each candidate thinks they can do better than the other.  No one can change anything overnight or all alone.  

What really bothers me the most are the reactions on BOTH sides.  The gloating and "told-you-so" attitudes, as well as the protesting, blocking and whining.  Where did all this nastiness come from? Why can neither side win or lose gracefully?  The hatefulness is incredible.  What good can this possibly be teaching our children?  

We've tried to teach our kids to be open-minded, kind, and respectful problem-solvers.  But our world shows them how to fight, hate and be nasty to get what they want.  In my oh-so-practical brain, the hypocrisy is incredible.  I don't understand what happened to "working together".  And honesty and truth.  Sheesh - out the window.  Pretty sad when candidates can't tell you what they'll do for you, but they can tell you a million reasons why the other guy is your worst nightmare.  Most of the time I wasn't sure who the ads were promoting.  And most proclaim "integrity".  Maybe I have a different definition of that word?

I have many reasons to be bitter about a lot of things, but it certainly wouldn't do me any good.  My husband is back to work at a permanent job after several years of temporary jobs that started during the recession in 2009.  The nasty comments about unemployment and jobless people were pretty disheartening.  We have also lost 11 family members during the past 4 years - ranging in age from 11 to 80-something.  Watching loved ones grieve is so hard!  Bitter?  I could be that crabby old bluebird instead of a happy one.

But we've also had our daughters' weddings to celebrate, as well as other family and friends being blessed with weddings, babies and good health.  So I choose to be happy and optimistic about the future!  I'd rather count my blessings than complain about how bad it is.  Or protest that things aren't going my way.  I'm on the right side of the dirt, and there are so many wonderful things to look forward to.   A little hope does wonders.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Seeing the Light?!

At our last Twin Cities Tatters gathering, we got to chatting about various lighting and magnifiers. I've tried the lighted magnifying glass around the neck, but it always slips.  Recently, I've been thinking maybe I need a new bifocal Rx, but really I think it boils down to the lighting in my living room.  It doesn't seem like it should be this tough to figure out why I can't stay focused very long, but so many things can affect productivity!

Another tatter had magnifiers that clip on to your glasses, and can be flipped up.  Great idea!  I hadn't seen those before - I guess I really hadn't looked, so I didn't know that they were even an option.  I went right away and found some at Michael's for about $10, and have been trying them out.  I really like that they just clip right on to my glasses - no fussing with a lanyard or a clip.  Now I just need to deal with the lighting.  My sewing room has a wonderful lamp over my chair, but as it gets darker and colder in these fall months, it's much cozier to sit in the living room!  

Who knew a $10 pair of clip-on magnifying glasses and a good lamp light could be so exciting?  Ha!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

More Crafty Wedding Stuff

Yes, we've made it through another wedding!  It's been so fun watching our 2 daughters marry their best friends - we now have TWO truly great son-in-laws.  And, in preparation, once again I chopped up another wedding dress.  YIKES!  This time it was my own dress.  What the heck? My dress has been in storage for 33 years, and my daughters didn't want to wear it.  Regardless, it's still difficult to cut up a beautiful dress.  Well, the first cut anyway . . . then I was on a mission!

My daughter wanted some lace from my dress for a sort of veil - just to drape down from a barrette on the back of her head.  So out came the scissors and some hot glue after finding a blingy barrette. Easy peasy!  Bluebird Wang at it again - it's incredible how much it costs to purchase a veil or headpiece.  Cheapy McCheaper Mom to the rescue, ha ha!

The intent was to just let it hang down in the back, but the photographer spread the lace out over her shoulders.  I think it was a wonderful idea, and looks like a beautiful shawl in some of the photos.  I really thought that was a fabulous idea - obviously he has some experience with brides!

We also saved some $$ by making the bouquets ourselves again.  We bought some bouquets of mixed flowers from Costco (a membership warehouse store) and figured out the  bouquets.  You can order mixed bouquets of certain colors (in season) and then take them apart to create bouquets.  A little floral wire and floral tape, and voila!  A mess, but WOW - were we pleased!  They turned out just perfect, and looked beautiful.  I did wake up on the day of the wedding hoping the flowers hadn't wilted or GOD FORBID froze in the refrigerator in the garage.  Needless to say, I was in the garage checking on them at about 5:30 a.m. 

I really think they look fabulous! [patting self on back here]

Another thing we did ourselves was make the cupcake stands.  We purchased crystal platters/plates from Goodwill, and glued them to various height glasses/sundae dishes/vases.  Better than renting a plywood cupcake "tree"!  Haven't seen cake and cupcake pictures yet, but they looked very nice.

The bride also made her centerpiece vases, and for favors dipped pinecones in wax with a wick wrapped around them for "fire starters" for fall bonfires.  They were in cello bags with fall colored ribbons, and a tag that said "C'mon baby, light my fire" with their name and date.  I love stuff like this - I think my girls have inherited this love as well!

And now, they've been married for a week.  What a fun day it was!

And, I think I can get back to some tatting and sewing on my own projects now.  I've been a little overwhelmed [to say the least] but I think we will get back to some normal routines now!  [What's normal, really?]

Happy Fall!  My favorite time of year.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Life is Good!

Another day, another month, another year - we all continue on in our everyday routines until something major changes, or until we lose someone we love.   I've experienced many changes over the past few years, and have also lost some very important people in my life.

Most recently, my dear Aunt passed away after health issues and a brief bout with cancer ended her mission on earth.  And what a mission!  She was the Auntie that could sew anything - from lingerie to swimsuits to lined suits to snowmobile suits!  She made our snowmobile suits when we were kids by holding up some paper, sketching a pattern , and whipping up a suit in a weekend's time. She was remembered in a wonderful celebration service - music she loved, people she loved, and the quilts she made adorned her church.  I'm sad to think I can never talk to her again, but my heart is joyful that she doesn't have to suffer in any way.  She was a one-of-a-kind, to-the-point, lover-of-learning and grateful-for-everything kind of person.  I can only hope to be remembered in a similar way.

And life continues on in many joyous ways as well!  Today, my daughter and I worked on getting her wedding invitations ready to mail.  It's almost here!  The next 2 months are going to be a whirlwind of preparations, shopping, details and showers.  It's coming up so fast.

I am trying to help her focus on one task at a time - all those final details can be so overwhelming.  And weddings should be fun, not stressful!  Trying to keep it low key, on time, and within budget.  (?!!!) And without any bridezilla attitudes, LOL.  Fortunately, my daughters are both very practical, and thankful for supportive good friends and family. It's going to be so fun!  Another life-changing event :)

There's life, and there's LIFE.  Enjoy every moment, be your best YOU, and appreciate every day. There's no time for anything less. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Shop Hopping and a Crash

Wow, July was a busy month!  We've had hot, humid weather and plenty of rain.  Actually, the grass and trees look lush this year - many times it's very dry and starting to get brown by now.

I was lucky (crazy?) enough to go with Mom on a 2-day bus trip to 10 quilt shops.  We had a great time with the usual bus load of wild, silly women acting like naughty children half the time, and seriously looking for just the right fabric at each shop the other half of the time.  

This was the annual Quilt Minnesota shop hop, and we were visiting the shops in the Metro section.  (If you visit all shops in any section, you are eligible for great prizes.) There is a line of fabric designed specifically for Minnesota, and the shops only have a limited amount of the fabric.  You know what that means - women are crazy to get what they want of this fabric, and it goes fairly quickly.   

 I usually try to get the fabric because I do like it, and it's just fun to have specialty fabric that has limited availability.  Needless to say, I picked up a few yards.  And patterns.  And kits.  Well?  I'll make something.  Aprons, pot holders, table runners.  Probably after the wedding, but at least I have plenty of projects for winter!  Ha.  

I got a new vehicle last week too.  My car was beginning that nickel-dime activity, and we decided not to put any more hard earned nickels into it. So, I got a 2016 Chevy Trax.  It's a great little urban SUV that gets great gas mileage.  

I had the new Trax for a little less than 48 hours, and while tooling around with my Mom, got rear-ended.  Yep.  Brand new vehicle, heading out for lunch on my BIRTHDAY with my Mom, and bam. Rear-ended by a kid looking at his phone.  Mom heard some phrases she didn't expect out o.lf my mouth!  Fortunately, everyone is OK and the damage is minor.  I will get a new bumper, but ugh.  The inconvenience of it all is frustrating.  I hate seeing people on their phones in the car, and I see it so frequently, it's startling.  My new Trax has the standard Bluetooth capability, and I can answer my phone with buttons on the steering wheel,- woo hoo!  Not that I'm a big phone chatterer, but ...  My phone stays in my purse anyway, but this is new technology I haven't had before!  Very convenient, and amazing to me.  I think I'll like this new Trax.  I better - I'll have payments for awhile!  Haven't had to deal with that for several years, so it's a shock to the accounts, LOL.

AND, for our birthdays - which are only 4 days apart - we decided to get nice bicycles.  Good for our health to get some activity, and we really have beautiful biking trails and parks nearby.  Not crazy about too much healthy activity outside in the humidity lately, but we are enjoying nice rides when the weather is tolerable.  The goal is to ride the paths along the river into Minneapolis, where there are wonderful restaurants with outside patios for lunch, and plenty of sights to enjoy.  Hopefully we'll get to do that this fall, but we need a bike rack on the Trax first.  Have some research to do!

On with August.  This next week will be hot - close to 90 with more humidity.  I really hate it when my glasses fog up just stepping outside.  Ish!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Perfect Summer Weather!

Weell, I'm still playing with my new Zentangle hobby.  (And acquiring more supplies!)

Pens, pencils, erasers, blender and books.  And sketch pads.  Who knew there were so many types of paper?  I am happy with this latest try at making a blob look 3D:

So fun to feel successful!  I chuckle when I think of my dad's question when I showed him - "What are you going to do with that?"  Well.  Nothing but admire my own work, I guess ;)

Our sweet Ruby turned 10 last week.  I can't believe we've had her that long!  She's an amazing part of our lives - she has a huge personality and childlike quality about her.  (Not to mention neurotic and anxious.)

We had a pretty relaxing 4th of July weekend while everyone else headed to camping or cabins or boating.  (We enjoy our quiet neighborhood on these holiday weekends!) We dog-sat my daughter's dog, and a nice walk exhausted both Ruby and Rambo.  They are both older, so they don't wear us out too much, haha!  Rambo, however, is very social.  And fast when he wants to visit the neighbors.  I am not so fond of chatting with the neighbors in my bathrobe at 6 am.  That only happened once (whew!)

I had plenty of time to finish another book while enjoying the absolutely perfect weather we had too!  

This week was back to the regular work routine - and today is starting out to be another beautiful day.  Gotta love the perfect weather on weekends!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Strawberry Season!

Strawberry season always gets summer started!  My girls and I made 2 batches of  Strawberry-Rhubarb jam today - 24 half pints.  It's the hottest day of the year so far (ugh) 96 and humid!  Tomorrow my plan is a batch of plain strawberry jam. One daughter has huge rhubarb plants, and my coworker gave me beautiful berries from her home garden.  Enough for LOTS of jam - I will share :)

I can't believe it's already July 4th next weekend!  Wedding plans are getting serious now - lots of planning getting accomplished!

Friday, June 17, 2016

New Grand-Dog

Meet Capone, our new Grand-Dog!  Isn't he cute?  As soft and cuddly as he looks, too.  The engaged couple decided to add him to their "zoo" - he has 2 sister cats who are not too sure they like him. Capone is Boxer/Bulldog and maybe something else.  In any case, he is well-loved.

A little drawing this week - not nearly enough, but it's that time thing again. This is a tangle that reminded everyone of mummies.  Baby mummies in this case, LOL. It was suggested I use this as a Halloween card and add a little orange. 

Still reading, not much time left for tangling or tatting or sewing this week. 
It's great to have options!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Slow Year of Blogging?!

Well!  It's been a loooong time since a blog post - almost 3 months!

Originally, I started blogging just to keep a record for myself of my progress with various hobbies, and it was a bonus to meet and get to know others. It's so enjoyable to interact with others that have the same interests! It turned into so much time reading everyone else's blogs and wanting to try absolutely EVERYTHING I saw, that I really spent more time browsing the web than actually working on the hobbies. But honestly, I just don't think my life is interesting enough to blog about too many details.  And there are times when I feel like every blogger or Facebook friend is trying to sell me something.  (Yes, I tried that too - not my bag.)

Truthfully, I miss keeping the sort of journal it creates of my own life - to look back and be able to say "wow, I really did that and it's really nice!" is so gratifying.  But, it does take some time, and leads me to other unnecessary surfing (ha ha!)  So, I guess I will keep on blogging, but will keep it more journal-like.  Maybe I will figure out a system for just posting pictures and not trying to write so much.  (But I need to explain!!)  

So, for the past few months, I have been doing a little of everything.  I've done a little tatting of cross bookmarks to have on hand - they are so handy to have to pop in a card to someone I know that will truly appreciate it. Our Twin Cities Tatters will meet tomorrow - that always inspires me, though I can't seem to tat and talk at the same time, so I make many mistakes. I have so many patterns I want to tat, but . . .

I've been doing a LOT of drawing, (not to mention gathering pens, pencils, blenders, sketchbooks, and spending time in art supply stores!)  I really do love the "zen" in zentangle.  Check out what ZENTANGLE is - anyone can do it! Even us perfectionists, with a little practice :)

I go through stretches where I read alot, and then I don't read for a few months.  I'm on my 3rd book in about month right now - another stretch of reading underway.

I'm still having some fun with photography, though I've stopped the photo challenge I started.  It was getting to be too many staged photos that I just don't either have the time, the equipment, or the location to get the assigned photo.  I don't want to take photos just to fulfill the assignment, I want the photos to be good ones, and ones I can be proud of or maybe hang on the wall.  But, the challenge did give me some other perspectives to think about when taking photos, so not all is lost.  So, I just enjoy looking back at some of the fun photos I've taken in the past, and just try to snap a few more when the opportunity arises.

Wedding plans are moving right along, and the next 4 months are going to go FAST.  I will be cutting into my wedding dress soon to work on a hair piece/veil. Yikes.

And, did I mention I'll be going on a quilt shop "shop hop" with my mom the end of July?  Imagine the inspiration.  I haven't been sewing much lately, but I'm sure I'll find some irresistible fabric.  Or pattern.  Hee hee!

More another day.  Maybe just a picture or two.  Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, March 25, 2016


Happy Easter weekend!  (Is it really Easter already?) 

I've gotten two edgings done in the last month - major accomplishment for me!   These are tea towels I decided to add an edging to for my girls for a little Easter gift.  They don't really care about tatting so much, but someday they might.

Lucky for me, the towels were not only on clearance, bit the initials just happened to match each of their kitchens.  THAT never happens!  

I've been continuing the drawing a lot lately, it's really very relaxing for me.  Today I got a little obsessed with trying to figure out how to draw fabric.  The buttons were easy, but my brain just couldn't get the fabric the way I wanted it.  I'm sure this isn't the last of the playing with this idea!

Best wishes for a wonderful Easter - Spring, renewal and rebirth are on the agenda!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tatting and Other Hobbies

Our Twin Cities Tatters group met this morning, and this is ALL I accomplished.  And then I goofed up at the end there and got going the wrong way!  Must've either been talking too much or concentrating too hard.  Hhmmpphh.  I will have to find time to start again, because it IS an easy, sturdy pattern, and I'm just making a towel edging.  It is, however, also one of those old written patterns that is easy to lose your place on.  Obviously.  I think I'll diagram it for myself before I start again.

I haven't been tatting much, but I have been participating in a couple of photography challenges. The 52-week challenge has me taking a photograph a week, with a certain theme as a guideline.  Week 7 was to be a faceless portrait, so this was my photo:

I have yet to finish that doily, but I thought a photo might inspire me to get back to it!

And last week some friends were doing a 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge on Facebook, so I thought I'd share the photos I posted daily for that challenge.  I'm sure I've probably posted these here before, but these are 7 of my all time favorites:

And, I'm continuing with the Zentangle drawing as well - pretty much daily!  It's fun to have some new things to explore and practice for a change, though I really don't need ANOTHER hobby. But, what the heck?  A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do :) 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day ❤️

I hope your day is full of hearts!  I've pretty much been playing with this newfound pen and ink distraction called Zentangle since I took the class the end of January.  Definitely a relaxing art form - intentional doodling!  It's not a time-waster if it provides stress-relief, right?

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

January is Done? What?

I thought I should at least try to post SOMETHING for January!  Holy moly - the month has flown and here we are, ready to get on with February.  I have done plenty, but haven't blogged about anything, so here's a summary:

* Still working the body AND the mind at the YMCA after work;

* Doing a little adult coloring; 

* Got through another 30th birthday celebration and quilt (did I mention I'm feeling OLD?)

* Took a Zentangle class and have been practicing (a lot!) ;

* And I'm keeping up on my 52-week photography challenge so far. This week's challenge was to find a landscape with good contrast for a black & white photo. I love this challenge, as it forces me to think about what I want to photograph rather than just randomly taking pictures. This is strictly a personal goal and challenge - I plan to make a Shutterfly book of my 52 photos with the challenge descriptions at the end. Hopefully I can stay on course for another 47 weeks!

I made it to our Twin Cities Tatters gathering last Saturday too, but have not accomplished enough tatting to take any photos of THAT :)

On with February!